The holiday blues can mean a lot of things for different people. Sometimes you may not feel like caroling, baking or holiday shopping.
Usually, however, it means there are increased levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue and even sadness. Often, people can also get what is known as “amplified” depression, which often coincides with seasonal depression during the holidays. This is one of the reasons we value sunshine so much. If you can’t get into the sun, take your vitamin D daily.
There are many things that can contribute to the holiday blues. The holidays are full of many demands and high levels of stress.
Often, we work so hard to bake all the gluten-free treats, buy all the Christmas gifts, attend all the parties and we’re left feeling spent and down. Self-care during this busy time usually goes out the window. People tend to forget to rest, sleep and take care of themselves.
On the other hand, people also tend to dread going back to work and resuming normal life after the holiday magic has worn off on December 25 and January 1. It can seem boring and sad to them.
There are many ways to deal with the holiday blues. Below are the top 10 tips for managing the holiday blues. These tips help you to manage your symptoms and start taking care of yourself and your mind.
- 1. Get enough sleep
It goes without saying that good quality sleep is crucial to good mental health. Being well-rested improves your mood and helps you to feel better about the day’s tasks. Sleep is also critical for restoring your body. Chronic insomnia is associated with increased chances for anxiety and depression. Improve your sleep and better your mood.
- 2. Limit alcohol intake
Drinking alcohol in excess is never a good thing, especially when it comes to managing mood. Excess alcohol can increase feelings of negativity. Try avoiding alcohol or limiting your intake this season if you’re trying to boost your mood. Opt for healthier mocktails instead.
- 3. Eat good food
Nutritional psychology is a real thing. It’s the science of how nutrients affect mood and behavior and it is very important. Food is fuel so it is crucial to ensure you’re putting good quality fuel into your body every day. Healthy diet habits often go out the window during the holidays. Yet making good decisions about what you’re going to eat can greatly impact mood. Choose organic foods, rich in mood-boosting nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins. Additionally, try eating fermented foods rich in natural probiotics to help improve mood and cognition.
- 4. Take your supplements
When we get busy and stressed, we can often forget to take care of ourselves and take our much-needed supplements. Supplements are your tools for delivering key nutrients in high doses to heal the body. Nutrients are needed for good mood (see #3 above). Make time for yourself this season. Take all of your supplements at their designated times and don’t forget to take them even during that holiday party. If you need to, try packing a little pill container to help ensure you get all of them in.
- 5. Get sunshine
Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) is an important nutrient for mental and emotional well-being. Many studies have reported low levels of vitamin D in people with depression and other mental disorders1. Optimal levels of vitamin D are associated with improving mood, increasing well-being and boosting cognitive function. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the maintenance and function of the brain. The research is clear: the more vitamin D you have, the more likely you are to feel happy rather than blue.
- 6. Learn to say “no”
If you’re constantly overscheduling yourself and not leaving any time for you, then you can easily feel overwhelmed. Overscheduling yourself and that resulting feeling of overwhelm can also put you at risk for emotional breakdowns. Learn to say “no” and mean it. This helps to set healthy boundaries for yourself that helps to prevent that feeling of being stressed, depleted and overwhelmed later on.
- 7. Have more self-care rituals
Self-care is imperative during the busy, stressful holiday season. You must make time for you during the day. Self-care is vital year round but especially during the holiday season. Make time to read your favorite book, meditate, go to your evening yoga class or simply drink warm tea with your loved ones. The simple acts of self-care are huge to your mental well-being.
- 8. Exercise
Aim for getting regular exercise that does not involve shopping, cleaning or wrapping. Make time for yourself (see #7) to get outside in the sunshine and walk a few miles without any distractions. Turn your phone off and just tune into nature. Moving your body regularly boosts mood and mental state.
- 9. Spend time with your loved ones
The more the merrier this holiday season! Try inviting your friends and family for a fun (and relaxing) holiday get together at your place. Have each person bring something tasty and healthy to share. When you have got the holiday blues it can be tempting to isolate yourself. Yet, it can be beneficial to spend time with your loved ones. They can help to support you, lift your mood and remind you of what’s important this season.
- 10. Reduce stimulation
The holidays are a stimulating time filled with blinking lights, music, phone chats with friend and long-distance emails from relatives. These are all great things but they can often become overwhelming during this busy time of year. In fact, the holidays are filled with more sounds, sights and smells than any other time of the year. Try detoxing from technology more especially when you’ve got company over and during your self-care time. Try playing classical holiday music that is calming to the mind. Or try shutting off your radio when you’re driving. Little acts to reduce stimulation can help the mind to still and reduce feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
The holiday season is a wonderful time but it can also be an overwhelming and stressful time. Try to be proactive and begin to implement some of the tips mentioned above to get through it. Lifestyle and nutrition tips can usually help to relieve these symptoms.
Please note if these feelings persist after the holidays, you may be dealing with more than the holiday blues. If this is the case, be sure to seek professional help for the symptoms you’re experiencing.
- Penckofer et al., 2010: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908269/